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8 Lessons 30 Somethings Wish They Could Tell Their 25 Year-Old Selves

8 Lessons 30 Somethings Wish They Could Tell Their 25 Year-Old Selves

Turning 25 is an often forgot about milestone that truly marks our entrance into adulthood. While it is true that the only things we can do at 25 is lower our car insurance rates, or purchase life insurance before the cost goes up, it also marks a time in life when we start on the path toward figuring out who we are. When we enter our 30s there are several pieces of advice we wish we could give to our 25 year old selves during that important year.

1. DO allow your passion to define you instead of job titles and descriptions

Passion is an intense emotion that we experience when we feel incredibly enthusiastic about something that we deeply care about. Our passions are supposed to be the creative and driving forces behind our actions. Ideally, the work we do for a living should nicely align with what we are passionate about. However, there are times when our passions are diminished by job titles that determine the value we bring to the world. We become defined as assistants, directors, service representatives, or managers and not as creators, learners, healers, artists, poets, inventors, scholars, activists, or thinkers. Therefore, someone in their thirties wishes he could tell his 25 year old self to be your passion and not your job.

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2. DON’T let fear prevent you from asking for what you want

Fear is a powerful emotion that can prevent us from having the lives that we dream of when we become too afraid to ask for what we want. This fear arises when we feel we run the risk of being told no, or having to sacrifice something in return for what we ask for. Then it feels more safe to not pursue what we want, rather than have our dreams be blown up by rejection or tainted by concessions. Yet, many people in their thirties lament all of things they could have had if they’d only asked for it when they were 25 – an increase of pay or change of job title, a relationship with someone they’d loved but never pursued, support for an innovative business venture, etc.

3. DO judge success by how you feel, and not by what you have

When we become adults, we begin to strive for those things that indicate we’ve reached a level of success and maturity within our lives – the nice car, comfortable home, fancy clothes, and a high paying job. Every day we are inundated with messages from television, print ads, music, family and friends that tell us what it means to be successful, and over time we may stop listening to the internal messages that help us define success for ourselves. Then a day may come when we look at all of the things we have accumulated while simultaneously asking ourselves “Who am I and what do I want?” Many 30 somethings wish they could tell their 25 year old selves to take time to listen to those internal messages that will help them to answer those questions.

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4. DON’T speak about your gifts, talents, and interests in the past tense

We each have unique talents, gifts and interests. Yet, as we get older many of the things that we love to do or study fall to the wayside as we become bogged down by everyday living and responsibilities. When others ask us about our interests, creative ventures, or hobbies we may shrug and say, “Well I used to enjoy writing but can’t find the time to do it as much as I used to,” or “I used to love to travel, but haven’t done it in years.” Yet, our 25 year old selves should know that when we allow our gifts, talents and interest to become parts of our past, we miss out on those aspects of ourselves that make us unique.

5. DO appreciate the love that comes in unexpected ways

To love and be loved can be a transformative experience because it adds a special and intangible value to our lives. As cliché as it sounds, love can turn bad days into bearable ones, convert tears to smiles, and give purpose to the aimless. Often, we hope to find love through our relationships with a significant other, hoping that he or she will complete a part of our lives that feels empty. However, as we search for that forever love with that special someone, we may overlook the other types of love that have the power to transform us and our lives. Unconditional love can be found through the sincerity of long time soul friendships, or by developing extremely close and loving bonds with family members. It can be found in community, whether it is spiritual, neighborhood-based, artistic, or activist.

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6. DON’T allow the opinions of others to cloud your decision making

We’ve all experienced being incredibly excited about a new idea, venture, or decision to then have someone we love relentlessly pellet us with doubting questions. In those moments, it feels like the wind was knocked out of our sails and the air let out of our balloons. One instant we are so invested in our visions, and then someone shares their opinion about our choices and we question ourselves, or don’t follow through on a plan. However, although our loved ones think they know what’s best for us, if we always let their opinions change our minds we could be missing out on those special moments in life. Our 25 year old versions would want to know that it is important to hold on to the dreams that excite us and put the wind in our sails.

7. DO recognize when it’s time to discard old baggage and expired relationships

There’s a well known adage that says, “people come into our lives for a reason, season, or lifetime.” However, can we tell the difference between those relationships that are to last for a season those that are for a lifetime? Many of us hold on to friendships and intimate, familial, and work-based relationships that suited well us in the past, yet presently stall our personal and professional growth. Some of our relationships can begin to feel one-sided, where we give much and receive very little in return. Other times our relationships begin to feel like a contest where our loved-ones put us down, do not express happiness about our achievements, or find fault with our decisions. Many 30 somethings want to tell their 25 year old selves to let go of expired relationships to focus on more significant relationships and endeavors.

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8. DON’T judge your mistakes, but find the lesson in them

One man’s mistake is another man’s lesson, and when we learn from our mistakes we give ourselves permission to recognize our own humanity. As we get older, we have to make more and more decisions in our lives as we take on more responsibilities. Therefore, mistakes are to be expected because we cannot foresee the outcome of every choice we make. Yet, when we make mistakes we often berate ourselves what we did wrong rather than asking what we could do differently in the future to prevent a similar outcome.

Featured photo credit: Mateusz Stachowski via freeimages.com

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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